On Saturday the 10th of August, one of the most heated rivalries in England soccer, and soccer in general, will spark once again. Manchester United will be hosting cross-town rivals Manchester City in what will surely be the game of the early-season, if not the season as a whole. Both clubs are sporting new managers, and lineups dotted (if not filled) with new players. A derby featuring the likes of managers in Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola (with quite a lot of history between the two of them already), and players in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Raheem Sterling, Eric Bailey, and Kevin De Bruyne promises to be a special one.
This fixture will be the 171st game all time between the two teams from Manchester, and both will be looking for a win to separate themselves from the rest of the pack at the top of the leaderboard. United currently have the better record in this fixture, winning 71 matches to City’s 49. There is a lot of history between the two managers, each spending their first year for their respective clubs, but ultimately City’s manager Pep Guardiola comes out on top in terms of records in their 17 matches against one another, winning 7 clashes against his counterpart, to Mourinho’s 3.
Recent Transfers to Spark the Rivalry
This year’s rivalry match promises to be a slugfest, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, already increasing the banter between the two sides not just in terms of new arrivals, but in the overall squads. (insert link!!!!!!!!!) Zlatan provided the gest, and directed it at new City arrival Claudio Bravo. Both could be set to make their derby debuts on Saturday. Both teams were very active in the transfer markets this year, so I’ll give you a rundown of the transfers. Manchester United brought in the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Eric Bailey. City were active as well to meet the needs of Guardiola, purchasing John Stones, Claudio Bravo, Ilkay Gundogan, and Nolito to reinforce their squad.
Team News, Injury Report
Probably the biggest worry (and adversely for one side, advantage) for both teams is the suspension of Manchester City star-striker Sergio Aguero. Aguero was suspended for three games by the English Football Association for an elbow on West Ham’s Winston Reid in their previous fixture. United will be hoping this will give them the edge to take the match, but it surely won’t be easy, as City has playmakers who can change the game in an instant.
For Manchester United, Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be slightly in doubt after seemingly picking up an injury away on international duty for Armenia. The playmaker took to Twitter to alert fans that his status for the game is rather doubtful. The man who has turned over a leaf in recent days in the eyes of United fans, Marouane Fellaini picked up a knock in United’s win over Southampton, but all reports indicate him being ready for Saturday’s fixture.
Predicted Starting XIs
To me, this game is an extremely difficult one to call. I have to go with the form on this one, and with the absence of Sergio Aguero, I’m going to give the game to Mourinho and United. It’s going to be a hard fought game, with the final score ending in United’s favor in a 2-1 win. United will go 3 points clear at the top of the table, and continue their good run of form.
Man of the Match: Zlatan Ibrahimovic will continue his good run of form, and score the winner. However, Eric Baily (should United win) will likely be a close contender for MOTM. For United to win, Baily (and Daley Blind) will have to be dominant.
The Wrap Up:
Whatever the result, should this game live up to the massive amounts of hype surrounding it, the 171st edition of the Manchester Derby promises to be one to remember. With both teams on high form supplemented by star-studded lineups built both in the summer transfer market, and in seasons past, the game promises to be an exciting one, with both teams looking to build on their brilliant runs of early-season form. Whatever side you support, expect this heated rivalry to become even more so; not just in this one match, but in games, and seasons, to come.